Has Style Become More Important Than Substance for Our Leaders?

Last night I finished the book Derailed by Dr. Tim Irwin.  In the book, Dr. Irwin examines the epic failures of six very high profile business CEO’s.  Most of us witnessed these failures in the news.  As Dr. Irwin stated, it was akin to watching a train wreck.

The interesting thing is that all of these people were exceptionally intelligent and highly competent people.  They had earned their new positions through producing results in previous roles in business.  However, they failed and failed spectacularly – why?

Character.  Failure in the area of character will eventually derail a leader.  It always seems to catch up to you.  In his book, Dr. Irwin identifies four primary areas of character and illustrates that a lack or failure of one of these four qualities will lead to the derailment of a career.





Humility is the key quality that is needed the most and the one where we often fail the most.  Dr. Irwin pointed out that arrogance was a common denominator in the profiles he examined in his book.

That leads me to a post on Tim Elmore’s blog, “What Scares Me Most About Leaders and Followers Today”, where he observes we have fallen in love with what he calls the campaigning leader.  Where we have become more enamored with style than with substance. What is entertaining becomes more important that what is true and right.

He points out that while we tend to point this out and rail about this in our leaders, we have contributed to this situation.  We fail to dig deeply beyond the spin in an attempt to discern the truth.  We fail to take the time to think deeply abo0ut issues and people and instead simply accept the sound bites that have been fed to us so masterfully.

When spin and style trumps character and substance – watch out.  A leadership train wreck is about to happen – and we helped it happen.

Questions – are you examining your life so that you are leading with character and substance and not with “image management”?  What are you doing to ensure that a lack of character does not derail your career?

Walk in truth today,


2 thoughts on “Has Style Become More Important Than Substance for Our Leaders?

  1. Those walk humbly before can be used to what Jesus called greater works. I have been blessed with Godly wisdom and understanding. I able to process information better. I am to use the base experiences solve new problems. I am be System Administrator (computers) which will pay a lot more than what I need. I will continue to carefully study God’s word every chance I get (twice a day). PHD’s do not seen to know what I know.


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